Loved & Learned from Kolbie Blume’s Intermediate Landscape Course Module 1: Light

After two years of painting, I am finally beginning to allow myself to think of myself as intermediate rather than a beginner, and accordingly I am working through Kolbie Blume’s Intermediate Landscapes course. (I actually started it before I did the beginner course!)

A four-module course, the first module concerned light, layers, and contrast. The paintings in this module involved planning multiple layers, making decisions about value contrast, and capturing light effects like glow, shadow, and backlighting.

The Paintings

Mountain Light


  • Colors of the sky – purple and yellow is an unusual sky combo, and I really like it.
  • Glowing peak
  • Pines are darker inside and light at the edges, implying backlighting
  • Misty effect


  • Alpenglow is more pink and less orange than I think
  • Toning down the colors of the trees might have let the mountain and sky shine a bit more
  • Watch those dried paint lines on the mountain shadows

Morning Glow


  • Hazy background layers
  • Colors – thought different from the reference, I like them, especially the addition of red on the trees under the sun
  • Soft blends


  • There are some places where the blends are awkward; you can see I didn’t pull the water all the way down for a new layer.
  • Edges of sun could be softened.
  • Patience, patience. I think I put some things on the same layer that should have been different.

Fiery Mountain Layers


  • Colors!
  • Glow!
  • Moody clouds!
  • Contrast!


  • Something missing from the reference photo is the haziness; I’m not sure if I mind, thugh
  • Got some drybrush effect on the tops of the mountains – watch that water control

Field of Poppies


  • Shadow on poppies
  • Grass definition
  • Sunlight effect in upper corner
  • Softness of background compared to crispness of foreground
  • Half-assed background poppies effectively convey a feeling of depth and don’t invite too much scrutiny


  • Keeping the sky lighter and brighter would have made the whole thing look less dreary – mine looks like a storm is about to break out, which changes the mood
  • Watch that the shadows in the poppies doesn’t cause the color overall to seem too dark. Some of the poppies didn’t retain their brightness.
  • Masking all the foreground flower shapes with masking tape was a pain in the ass – this is why I don’t do this kind of painting often.

Lone Mountain


  • Gently clouded sky
  • Pinky colors on mountains
  • Calm vibe


  • Leave whites for the snow; I let them get too sparse and then added white gouach on top, but it’s not the same
  • One thing I like from the reference that’s missing in the final is how blue the shadows are. Because I layered them on top on the pink, they ended up getting gray.


I really enjoyed this module. I found the reference photos beautiful, and I surprised myself by doing some of my best work to date, in my opinion. December 2022, when I did this module, was just a banner month for me in general (before I got the flu); I did a ton of paintings and felt like I was making skill breakthroughs.

One method which helped for complex, multi-layered paintings like this one was to take an “assmebly line” approach. I’d paint a layer on one painting, then set it aside to dry. If I felt like continuing, rather than futz with the drying painting, I’d start the next painting. I separated “how much I feel like painting tonight” from the concept of finishing any given painting, since most took 3-5 layers with drying time in between. I tended to end up doing a different stage on 3-4 different paintings per night: maybe start one, finish one, and do a middle layer on another one or two. If you are going to take this approach, clipboards help a lot!

Next time, color theory!

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